FORT WAYNE – Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert was named the best player at his position on his second try, and coach Brian Kelly became the first two-time winner of a coaching award Wednesday.
Eifert, a former Bishop Dwenger standout, was named the John Mackey Award winner. The senior was also a finalist for the award given to the nation’s most outstanding tight end last year.
Kelly, who led the No. 1 Irish (12-0) to the BCS championship game against No. 2 Alabama (12-1) in his third year with the program, was named the Home Depot coach of the year. He also won the award in 2009 when he led Cincinnati to a perfect regular season.
Kelly and Eifert will be presented with their awards during the Home Depot College Football Awards show on ESPNU at 7:30 p.m. today.
Eifert is the first Irish tight end to win the Mackey Award.
Eifert led Notre Dame in receptions (44) and receiving yards (624) and tied receiver TJ Jones for the most touchdown receptions (4) this season.
The 6-foot-6, 251-pounder became Notre Dame’s all-time leader in receptions by a tight end with 134, breaking Ken MacAfee’s 35-year-old record (128), and he broke MacAfee’s record for most receiving yards by a tight end with 1,779 yards this season. MacAfee had 1,760 career receiving yards.
Eifert was named the Mackey Award winner over Stanford’s Zach Ertz and Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Kelly has won eight or more games in each of his first three seasons with the Irish and his 28 victories are tied for the most by any Notre Dame coach in that time.
Kelly’s streak of eight or more wins over three seasons surpasses wins from Lou Holtz, Ara Parseghian, Frank Leahy and Knute Rockne, who combined to win 10 consensus national championships.
Parseghian is also being recognized during the show with the NCFAA contribution to college football award.
Kelly and Eifert join linebacker Manti Te’o in collecting postseason honors.
Te’o, who won the Lombardi Award (top lineman) on Wednesday in Houston, already won the ARA sportsmanship award, the Butkus Award and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player).
The Heisman Trophy finalist could win two awards tonight at the awards show as he is a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year) and Maxwell Award (player of the year). Te’o is also a finalist for the Lott IMPACT Award.